Long-Term Unemployment and Your Job Search

If you’ve been out of work for even a few months, you could already be experiencing some of the emotions of someone who’s been unemployed for several months or longer. It’s a situation that intensifies as your job search lengthens without an end in sight.

This post is not intended as a panacea for the major challenges of long-term unemployment. It’s just meant to direct attention to something that too often gets ignored–and, hopefully, give you a few thoughts to strengthen your job search.

How Long is Long-Term Unemployment?

Apparently, 27 weeks or more constitutes long-term unemployment. That’s just over 6 months. Even if you qualify for unemployment compensation, that’s not a real solution to your problem. It doesn’t last indefinitely, and it’s undoubtedly well below the salary you were earning in your last position. If you don’t qualify for unemployment compensation, that’s obviously worse.

3d road sign of text success, failure and crises

At this point in your job search, you might see success as a goal that’s rapidly receding into the distance, while the thought of failure looms over you and pushes you into crisis mode. Not a good place to be!

I recently read a 2016 article titled “What it’s like to be long-term unemployed” that quoted someone who had been unemployed for an extended period, despite excellent educational and experience qualifications and a vigorous job search (including extensive networking). The article writer noted that it was hard not to be moved by the situation that person described, but he added:

“It’s also worth remembering that the employment situation has improved… In June, there were nearly 2 million workers who had been unemployed for more than 27 weeks… That was about a quarter of the 7.8 million unemployed…. In April 2010, the long-term unemployed totaled 6.8 million, about 44 percent of the 15.3 million then unemployed. Still, the numbers are meaningless if you can’t find a job.”

The Impact of Long-Term Unemployment

Pick Me - One Person Stands out as Best Choice in CrowdIn any job search, you could have moments where you feel as if you’re standing in the middle of a crowd of job seekers and shouting, “Pick me!” And no one does. When the search drags on for months, that feeling often grows and takes on a life of its own.

Being in that kind of situation can have at least two kinds of largely negative impact on you and your job-search activity:

  • Emotional and physical
  • Financial

Emotional/physical: Takes a toll on your mental and physical energy; leads to discouragement; weakens your ability to persevere in the face of daunting obstacles.

Financial: Sharply reduces your funds to pay for things that aren’t really luxuries or even discretionary, such as food, clothing, rent or mortgage payments, and more.

What Can You Do about Long-Term Unemployment?

No, there’s no magic potion you can drink to make the problem vanish. If there were, someone would be making a fortune selling it!

Here are three basic suggestions to consider:

  • Look creatively for resources you can add to what you already have. For instance, are there support groups in your area you can interact with, so you’re not isolated in your “no hope” job search? Are there ways you can generate interim funds (and/or people who can and will help you)?
  • Take a mental step back (maybe even a short time-out) to focus on something other than career management and job searching. You never know where good ideas will come from–especially if you give your tired job-search brain a chance to rest. Think of this as self-brainstorming.
  • Evaluate the actions you’ve been taking and see if you’re basically repeating the same things over and over. Remember the definition of “insanity”: doing the same things and expecting different results.Determination Overcomes an Obstacle

Above all, don’t give up. Redirect your energies if necessary, but don’t give up.

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